How Alcohol Effects Weight Loss

Let’s start with a little background. The kind of alcohol we drink is known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol.
All consumption alcohols have the same effect on the body whether they are wine, beer, or hard
liquor. Alcohol is produced when yeasts metabolize certain sugars.
Are all alcohols created equal? No, different alcohols have different calorie and alcohol levels. The
source of the sugar determines the type of alcohol. Gin comes from juniper, wine from grapes, vodka
from potatoes and beer and ale from hops. One-ounce of 80-proof whiskey has 83 calories, oneounce
wine has 17 to 29 calories, one-ounce of liqueur has 106 to 124 calories and (America’s
favorite) one-ounce of beer has 11 to 14 calories.
Why does drinking alcohol make it harder for you to lose weight?
First, the way alcohol is absorbed by the body is different. All other foods and drinks are digested,
converted and transported to cells and tissues. Alcohol goes directly to the blood stream. About 20
percent of the alcohol is absorbed (into the bloodstream) through the stomach walls and about 80
percent is absorbed through the small intestine. They are empty calories, meaning you get all the
calories with little or no nutritional value. Some people may joke that they are “carbo-loading” when
throwing back multiple beers. The truth is, all they are doing is calorie loading!
Second, let’s look at those calories. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. These extra calories have to be
worked off or the body will store them as fat.
Third, to work off those extra calories you must exercise but, as few as three drinks can cause a
hangover (depending on weight, body composition and tolerance). Common symptoms are
headache, fatigue, dehydration, and nervousness- none of which are likely to induce you into feeling
up for a workout.
Fourth, and most damaging, alcohol can wreak havoc with your metabolism. In excess, alcohol
impairs the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. Without proper nutrition, your metabolism doesn’t
function normally. The result, your basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories your body burns
naturally) will decline, making it even harder to lose weight.
We all have heard someone say, “I just have a few drinks at night to take the edge off”. If you drink
two beers or two glasses of wine each day, that’s around 1,400 calories per week, or about 73,000
calories per year. Unless those extra calories are burned off you will gain 20 pounds!
Remember, weight loss is a simple formula. You must burn more calories than you consume, and
3,500 burned calories equals one pound of weight loss.

Matt Murphy is the owner of NEWTITION 360, based in North Conway, NH.
NEWTRITION 360 specializes in sports nutrition • healthy weight management. Matt can be
reached at 603-498-3445 •